Friday, January 18, 2019

We Regret to Inform You by Ariel Kaplan - ADVISABLE

We Regret to Inform You by Ariel Kaplan, 344 pages. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018.  $18.

Language: PG (10 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE. 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Mischa has spent the last four years of her life devoted to getting into a top college, skipping parties, following the rules, and being the person her mom wants her to be. When the time for acceptance letters come, the unthinkable happens: she gets rejected from every school she applied to, even her safety. Mischa turns her life on its head, skipping French club meetings and talking back to teachers, all while trying to figure out who could possibly have sabotaged her applications.

A solid contemporary novel that deals with the whirlwind of emotions that comes with senior year, as well as the uncomfortable conclusion that most teenagers deal with, the fact that we don't always want the same things as our parents do. There are a lot of strong women in this book that are powerful without being catty, I appreciated that, as well as the mystery that kept me engaged till the last page.

Catherine Bates, Library Teacher

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden - ESSENTIAL


Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, 218 pages.  Putnam, 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Ollie misses her mother so much that she avoids life by reading books.  One day on her way home from school, after a particularly trying day, Ollie happens upon a woman mumbling nonsense and trying to throw a book into the river.  Ollie grabs the book from the woman and races home.  Ollie quickly falls into the book about two brothers who love the same woman and the ghost story that follows.  What Ollie doesn’t realize is that she will fall into the same ghost story with her schoolmates.  

This book is creepy fun.  I couldn’t put it down and loved eleven-year-old Ollie and her courage.  Although the book is scary, it’s clean and has great character development that emphasizes friendship, love and moving on.  Such a fun read!  

C. Peterson

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Stain by A. G. Howard - ESSENTIAL

Stain by A. G. Howard, 516 pages.  Amulet, 2019. $20.  

Language: G (1 swear, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Princess Lyra was born just as her mother died.  Born into a kingdom of perpetual day, she was promised as the bride to a boy born to a land of perpetual night.  Her governess, her aunt Griselda, has other ideas for her destiny.  How about killing her off and substituting her own daughter to fulfill the prophecy?  Lyra is rescued by an unlikely cast of characters and raised on the wild border between the kingdoms with no memories of her former life nor of her ordained future. If fate doesn’t intervene what will happen to the two kingdoms?

It says prominently in the promotional materials that this is based on The Princess and the Pea.  I don’t see it.  SO ignore that and just enjoy this for the fine high fantasy read that it is.  While there are glimpses of several familiar tales within, this is really just a wonderful weaving of story and character that you will reread as soon as you are done so that you can enjoy its nuances again.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Sheets by Brenna Thummler - ADVISABLE

Sheets by Brenna Thummler, 238 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Lion Forge, 2018 $13.00 Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

13-year-old Marjorie runs the family laundry business, dealing with angry customers and the nosy Mr. Saubertuck who wants to take the business away from her. Wendell is a young ghost who breaks the rules of ghost town by returning (unauthorized) to the human world, and is disrupting things at Marjorie's. Marjorie's mother has passed away and her father has shut down, she doesn't need a ghost causing trouble, too. 

Sheets is a sad story - Marjorie has no friends, a difficult home life and works harder than a girl her age should need to. Wendell doesn't adapt well to death, and his backstory is tragic. My graphic novel readers tend to like funny or adventure stories, I'm interested to see if this becomes popular, it is certainly an emotional, sensitive read that will appeal to a larger audience. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith - OPTIONAL

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith, 288 pages.  Swoon Reads (Mcmillan), 2019.  $18.

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mia is desperate to date Vince, her high school’s BMOC, especially since homecoming is just around the corner.  She has been trying to manipulate her best friend, Robyn, the school’s most skillful matchmaker, to help her, but Robyn refuses.  When Mia takes matters into her own hands and sends a fake email to Vince, pretending it is from Robyn, Mia gets her wish.  But why is Logan, the school’s class clown always in her thoughts and in her life?  

If what you need is a palette cleansing light read for the beach or complete mindless downtown, this will fit the bill.  It does what it sets out to do – be a feel good, you-know-where-this-is-going romantic comedy.  There are a few pleasant detours along the way.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm - ADVISABLE


The Third Mushroom (Fourteenth Goldfish, #2) by Jennifer L. Holm, 220 pages.  Random House, 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ellie loves science and she decides to partner with her grandpa for the middle school science fair.  Ellie’s grandpa, Melvin, looks like a teenager because of a science experiment he did on himself (more of that story in the Fourteenth Goldfish).  Melvin and Ellie discover an animal that can adapt and grow new body parts, and when Melvin tries it on himself it doesn’t have the predicted outcome.  There are lots of changes in Ellie’s life, so on top of navigating her grandpa’s crazy experiments she also must figure out her friendship with her best friend, Raj.  

This is a cute sequel to Ellie and Melvin’s adventures in the Fourteenth Goldfish.  Ellie is a likable character and the story line is creative, with a little bit of attempted romance between Ellie and Raj.  The end of the book has mini biographies on some of the better-known scientists.  If your readers enjoyed Fourteenth Goldfish, they will like this as well, but I recommend reading them in order.  

C. Peterson

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit - OPTIONAL

The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy #1) by Trudi Trueit, 207 pages.  National Geographic, 2018.  $17.

Language:G ; Mature Content: G; Violence PG (some danger)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Cruz, 12, is finally off to the Explorer Academy.  He will be training with a talented group of teens with the best professors in their respective fields.  The competitive spirit among the kids runs high, but Cruz has more to worry about - he is also traveling in his mother’s footsteps.  Not only did she work and teach at the Academy, she also died there. Can Cruz find out what really happened to her?

As I sat down to write this review, I realized I have no idea what the purpose of the Academy actually is.  It seems more like they are training spies and evil scientists than explorers.  I mean, what is the purpose of their explorations when everything seems to revolve around thwarting evil plans and creating tech that can and will be used for espionage? This lack of focus made it harder for me to buy into the worldbuilding.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix - ESSENTIAL


The Faithul Spy by John Hendrix, 175 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL Amulet Books (Abrams), 2018.  $25.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a German who lived during Adolf Hitler’s rise in the Nazi Party.  Bonhoeffer loved God and felt like Hitler was spreading evil and hate, so Bonhoeffer became a part of the German resistance fighters.  He spread information and tried to help others, but eventually was imprisoned for a long time regardless of the fact that those incarcerating him didn’t have hard evidence.  Dietrich was a good person who swore his allegiance to God and was willing to die for his beliefs.  

I loved this book for so many reasons.  First, the illustrations are powerful with bold bright colors and details that cause the reader to feel what Dietrich is feeling.  Second, the biographical information is succinct and compelling.  Third, I cared for Dietrich and his courageous stand and feel like this book draws attention to the fact that there was a German Resistance.  Great book-everyone should read it.  

C. Peterson 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly - OPTIONAL

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly, 274 pages.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: R (185 swears, 69 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Joel is alone in life—except for his parents, his little brother, the new kid who doesn’t know how to not say what he’s thinking, the principal of the school, the girl he likes, the homeless people he serves food to at the soup kitchen, the rest of the school, and a bunch of other people on the planet. So, pretty much, he’s not alone. But Joel doesn’t feel like he can always say what he needs to even when he finds a gun and the consequences become bigger than anything he thought might happen.

As I read, the story felt like Joel was narrating his life without purpose beyond his occasional interjection that an event mentioned was a mistake because of what would happen later. While I was often amused by some of Joel’s inner commentary, the story continued to meander through the entire book, even at the climax. Reflecting back on the story, I like the theme that Reilly brings out about how we often don’t say something because of fear but it’s better to take the risk; I just think that the story told to bring out that theme is slow.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer - ESSENTIAL


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, 496 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (16 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Harper is the lookout for her brother while he takes care of a job for the neighborhood bad guy, but while waiting she sees a man trying to take a woman.  Harper steps in to defend the woman and quickly finds herself in another world--Emberfall.  The prince of Emberfall is Rhen and he is stuck in a curse that unless he can find a woman to love him, then his kingdom will fail.  Harper is his last hope, but Harper longs to be home with her dying mother and she is confused by the magic of Rhen’s world.  They need to trust each other to save Emberfall and each other.  

I love any spin on Beauty and the Beast and this is a good one.  Kemmerer writes fantastic chemistry between Rhen and Harper and their strengths and weaknesses are realistic and give the book depth.  I totally enjoyed this journey and can’t wait to read more in this series. 

C. Peterson

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith - OPTIONAL


Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith, 264 pages.  Marvel (Disney), 2018.  $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

T’Challa is a teenager, but also the prince of Wakanda.  The king is worried about T’Challa’s safety in Wakanda so he wants T’Challa and his friend, M’Baku to go to Chicago anonymously and attend middle school.  At first, T’Challa and M’Baku like the freedom, but M’Baku falls in with a bad crowd who is known for doing witchcraft and T’Challa has to call on the powers of the Black Panther to try and fight the evil before M’Baku gets himself into an unforgiveable situation.  

I enjoyed the movie Black Panther and thought this back story would be fun, but I was disappointed by the drag in the story line with all the details of the life of a middle school-er.  Also, the idea that the king of Wakanda would send his middle-school-aged prince son without an adult chaperone to inner city Chicago is far-fetched.  This book could have been good-the bad guy was interesting and I like T’Challa, but it was just boring.  

C. Peterson

The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari - OPTIONAL

The Sweetest Kind of Fate (Windy City Magic #2) by Crystal Cestari, 310 pages.  Hyperion (Disney Book Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: PG-13 (35 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Family, friends, and enemies alike are withholding information that Amber thinks she should be privy to, while she keeps secrets herself. Wanting to prevent unfavorable outcomes for herself, Amber refuses to let go of the control she has on her present. However, procrastination does not prevent the pain of reckoning day.

The continuation to Amber’s story was very enjoyable to read, even if it wasn’t what I expected. This sequel played out more like a soap opera than the first book did, which makes for a fun story, but I was disappointed to find less substance in this part of Amber’s story. The best part is when everything comes together to teach Amber and readers that we are in charge of our own destiny.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins by Lester L. Laminack - OPTIONAL

The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, 2018. $9. 9781682630631

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Miss Olivia Wiggins has Alzheimers and lives in a nursing home. Her daughter and great-grandson come to visit one day and as they speak with her she never responds but she does think back and remember events from her past. Despite having seeming no connection to her visitors, they still feel and try to build a bond with their loved one.

This is a serious picture book, the kind only the most sensitive kids are going to pick up on their own. The topic of how to deal with loves ones who suffer from Alzheimers is an important one but this is a book that approaches it on a deep, serious level. The illustrations are watercolors--beautiful but not super approachable--and there's a lot of text on each page. I imagine many adults might think this is a good pick, but I personally liked Grandma Forgets by Paul Russell a lot better.

Reviewer: TC

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones - OPTIONAL

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones, 381 pages.  Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), 2017. $17.99

Language: R (35 swears, 16 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Demons are no longer the objects of rumors and myths—they walk among us. If you need a wish granted, all you need to do is find a demon and accept the loss of a limb in exchange for your request. Dee has never wanted to be one of those people, but desperate circumstances force her to seek out a deal with a demon and find her life by losing it.

Lloyd-Jones entices you to keep reading just like her demons draw in new people wanting to trade limbs for wishes. Once I started reading, I had a hard time leaving Dee’s world and putting down the book. I loved the suspense and mystery as well as rejoicing with Dee as she learned to let down her walls to allow herself to live instead of simply survive.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

LGBTQIA+

Friday, January 11, 2019

PODCAST - Episode 1 now available

We are trying a new thing - a podcast.  Each month one of the reviewers and I will go over our favorite books from the last month to share with you and with each other.

Because it is December, this first podcast is a bit different - its all about our favorite winter and holiday books.

Give it a listen and let us know what you think!

Listen to "Kiss the Book" on Spreaker.

---Cindy

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders - ADVISABLE

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders, 245 pages. Delacourt Press 2017 $17 Language: PG (0 swears, 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Emily's older sister passed away three months ago, and Emily is still mourning, not only for her sister, but also for Bluey - the blue teddy bear that was cremated along with Holly. Emily and her family had spent years making up stories and adventures about Bluey, and Emily longs to see both her sister and the bear again. Then, one night Emily dreams about talking toys who know Bluey and live in the made up land where he lives. But there's something else going on, the toys are passing into the "hard" world more and more often, Emily isn't dreaming and the toys are acting very strange. 

The Land of Neverendings is odd, but touching; almost a nightmare version of Winnie the Pooh, but not scary, just strange. Originally published in London, I think it may be too British for my middle schoolers, however, as books about grief and loss go, this is one I'd recommend.  

Lisa Librarian

Wolves and Roses by Christina Bauer - OPTIONAL

Wolves and Roses by Christina Bauer, 276 pages.  Monster House Books, 2017. $13.95

Language: R (113 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Bryar Rose’s life should be very predictable considering that her life follows the Sleeping Beauty template. However, she has other plans. Bry is not afraid to take risks to make sure she has a say in what her life looks like—even as her aunties try to force Bry to act her part, Denarii try to kill 
Bry for reasons she doesn’t understand, and friends betray Bry’s trust.

This was a fun story to read, but it isn’t very well put together. Wolves and Roses has a very casual feel about it and has repetitive information at the beginning of chapters like episodes of a TV show. Overall, it feels more like a fanfiction story than a well-edited novel. I still enjoyed reading it, but the story could have been better executed.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, January 10, 2019

When You Grow Up by Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Markel - ADVISABLE


When You Grow Up to Vote by Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Markel, 83 pages.  Roaring Brook Press, 2018.  $20.  Content: G  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

This nonfiction book breaks down the steps that make our country run.  Each branch of government and how they run are simply explained.  Other lesser known branches of government are covered including cabinet positions and police and garbage collectors.  There are other explanation pertaining to the government at the back including gerrymandering, check and balances and the timeline of the amendments.  

I enjoyed this basic explanation of the government and think this information would be great for all citizens.  That said, it’s confusing who the intended audience is because the pictures give it a younger feel, but the information would help middle and high school students and might be a bit above the comprehension of younger readers.  This book would be great for teachers.  My other random complaint is the book says it’s written by Eleanor Roosevelt but there has been a lot of changes to our government since her time and those changes are reflected in the book making it confusing as to what parts she wrote.  

C. Peterson

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk - ADVISABLE


Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk, 310 pages.  Tor Teen (Macmillan), 2017.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (53 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Attia was raised to be a warrior queen, but when her beloved kingdom of Thrace is ransacked she becomes a slave for the kingdom of Rome.  Attia is given as a gift to the gladiator Xanthus, but Xanthus is also a slave with little freedom himself.  Together they find friendship and more, but in the process they find themselves fighting together within the Republic of Rome.  

I had low expectations going into this novel because gladiators are such a depressing topic, but I totally loved this book.  The characters were fantastic and the setting was very well done.  I loved the pace of the plot and the development of the relationship between Xanthus and Attia.  The content includes gladiator deaths, threat of rape, branding, mention of crucifixion and physical abuse.  

C. Peterson

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Steal this Country by Alexandra Styron- ADVISABLE

Steal this Country by Alexandra Styron, 205 pages.  NON-FICTION.  Viking (Penguin Random House), 2018. $19.99
Language: PG (6 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Styron introduces six current political issues, focusing on those important to America though a few international issues are included. She explains each of those issues and couples them with personal experiences from young activists to show readers why their voice is important in this country. 

While Styron has an obviously liberal political view, I love how she encourages young people to find an issue that they feel strongly about and take action—no matter what the issue is or they feel about it.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Blacklisted! by Larry Dane Brimner - ESSENTIAL

Blacklisted! : Hollywood, The Cold War, and the First Amendment By Larry Dane Brimner, 171 pages. NON FICTION Calkins Creek, 2018. $17.95 Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

During the Cold War, the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities investigated a number of Hollywood screen writers (and others) and questioned them about their political views; specifically, they wanted them to admit to being communists and give up names of their associates. This is the story of the Hollywood Ten; men who refused to give up their first amendment rights, and were subsequently blacklisted. 

Brimner has given us a well researched, engaging, Hollywood name-filled history on the hearings and their aftermath. Quoting from sources who were there (Gordon Kahn and others) we see an accurate depiction of this “circus”. Captioned pictures of documents, people and telegrams help put background knowledge into perspective. Includes an extensive author’s note, bibliography, source notes and an index. 

Lisa Librarian 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Solar System: Our Place in Space by Jon Chad - ADVISABLE


Science Comics: Solar System: Our Place in Space by Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Jon Chad.  122 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL First Second (Roaring Brook Press), 2018.  $13.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

A girl named Sara is home sick when her friend Jill comes to visit and decides to teach her about the Solar System.  They make up a story about a spaceship full of their pets and take the reader on a journey through space.  The sun and each planet is featured with highlights about each one, including a report from the space pets.  Not everything goes smoothly for the space pets, but each planet is discussed and Jill helps Sara understand and love the solar system.  

The non-fiction portion of this book is five stars.  I thought the highlights about each planet were fascinating and I was reading parts out loud to my family.  The illustrations are bright and attractive which is an important part in a graphic novel.  The story about the space pets was boring and made the book seem very juvenile, which will turn older readers away even though the facts are interesting for all.  The violence is random and shocking, and it includes the story of a man getting his nose cut off by a sword with a graphic picture to go with it-completely out of place with the feel of the rest of the book and pushing it into middle school level.  Great non-fiction, but not great overall.  

C. Peterson

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Chasing Helicity by Ginger Zee - ADVISABLE

Chasing Helicity by Ginger Zee, 2014 pages. Disney, 2018. $17. 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Helicity is with her horse on a hilltop when a tornado hits her small town and destroys her house and injures her brother. This furthers her fear and fascination with weather and she uses the photos she took from the hilltop to launch an adventure into storm chasing. 

This is a tender subject for many readers who may feel some anxiety around the weather and natural disasters, but the author deals with it both tenderly and boldly. I think this story around the power of nature will be fascinating for many readers.    


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Seeing Stars: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations by Sara Gillingham - ADVISABLE

Seeing Stars: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations by Sara Gillingham. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Phaidon, 2018. $25. 9780714877723

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

There is a little background to the history and use of constellations, but the bulk of the book is a catalog of each constellation. Each two page spread includes a full page illustration of the constellation, a description of where the stars are located, how to find it, and a story or legend associated with the image made up by the stars. 

Books don’t get much more beautiful than this one. The cover of the book is a beautiful matte finish with holes punched out for all the stars. The illustrations are all limited to three key colors, but it feels aesthetically soothing. I think this book will appeal to students interested in the night sky and would be fun to use as a school club on astronomy. 


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Friday, January 4, 2019

Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson -- ESSENTIAL

Avalanche! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson, 104 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. $10.

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some peril and injuries due to the avalanche, but kept pretty clean).

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, HS – ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Twelve-year-old twins Ashley and Ryan are caught in an avalanche in the Grand Teton Mountains. Surviving the weight of the cascading snow is just the beginning, though. They must overcome separation, hypothermia, frostbite, wild animals, and serious injuries. Can the twins make it back to civilization, or will the mountain conquer them once and for all?

I couldn't put this book down. The action is fast-paced, and Ashley makes a compelling hero, both empathetic and endearingly flawed. Author Terry Lynn Johnson is a survival expert with years of experience in the wilderness, and it shows in her details, which set the scene well and added extra layers to the feeling of peril. This would be perfect for fans of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen or the the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis.

Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Stories in the Clouds: Weather Science and Mythology from Around the World by Joan Marie Galat - ADVISABLE

Stories in the Clouds: Weather Science and Mythology from Around the World by Joan Marie Galat, illustrated by Georgia Graham. PICTURE BOOK. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Whitecap, 2019. $17. 9781770502451

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This book pairs mythology with science. There is a story about one act of nature explained through legend from one culture and after that story are a few pages of the science behind the act of nature. 

I think the pairing of storytelling and science is brilliant and very interesting. I don’t see many kids sitting down and reading this book, but I do think it could be used effectively in an English or science classroom. 


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Follow Your Stuff: Who Makes It, Where Does It Come From, How Does It Get to You? by Kevin Sylvester - ESSENTIAL

Follow Your Stuff: Who Makes It, Where Does It Come From, How Does It Get to You? by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Annick Press, 2019. $13. 9781773212531

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This book walks the reader through the global economy and all the influences on a single purchase. The authors look at a shirt first and discuss where each material was made, where it was assembled, how much materials cost, and how the advertising and selling works. The book then walks through the process for medicine, a book, and a cell phone. 

Students will find this book very interesting. I love that it brought up important issues related to consumption in a global economy, but did not answer those questions because of their ethical complexity. This leaves room for students to think, discuss, and perhaps write a persuasive paper about. The aesthetics in this book are lacking, but other than that, it is an engaging read. 


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Extreme Abilities: Amazing Human Feats and the Simple Science Behind Them by Galadriel Watson - ESSENTIAL

Extreme Abilities: Amazing Human Feats and the Simple Science Behind Them by Galadriel Watson, illustrated by Cornelia Li. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Annick Press, 2019. $13. 9781773212494

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This book is divided into eight sections, each covering an impressive physical feat. Each of those sections contains a history of people who have used that physical power, stories of people who currently use that power, warnings and tips, the science behind it explained, and then finally a section on how the reader can use what they just read about. 

This book is so interesting. I learned something new on every single page. I also found this book to be very approachable. There is a fair amount of reading, but it is divided up into easy to tackle sections. 


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey - ADVISABLE

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey, 317 pages. Swoon Reads (Feiwel and Friends), 2018. $11. 9781250174871.

Language: G (0 'F'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (kidnapping, related beating)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Kate Darby is a Ladies Maid at Shackleford Park who has taken an interest in the visiting valet, Matt Harlow. As the two become entangled in the mystery of a missing footmen, their fascination with each other grows. As Christmas festivities abound, the two young servants will be throw together in an adventure from which they will be lucky to come out of alive!

Any fan of Downton Abbey will immediately take a liking to this novel set in 19th century England. The upstairs/downstairs dynamic is there, the interesting characters are there and the clean language is a plus. Overall the story itself was fairly predictable and as the story reached its climax I still found myself getting a bit bored. I am quite positive, however, that this will be a big hit with teenage girl readers--bonus points for it being a holiday story, as well.

Reviewer: TC